All Our Planes

Yakir Ben-Moshe

Translated from the Hebrew by Joanna Chen


According to foreign sources, the night I met Shirley—the Israeli army attacked Syria.

17 tons of explosives were dropped from war planes,

penetrating the nuclear reactor, while my future wife and I

kissed for the first time

at Lenny’s Pub in Florentine.

Later we went back to my place, so I could read her palm.

I found three diagonal lines crossing the Mount of Venus, and traces

of melted chocolate between her fingers. I held each finger

and said she shouldn’t worry, I’ll watch out for her.

Only next morning was it announced that all our planes returned home safely

aside from one, a lost and wandering plane that dropped an empty tank

of aircraft fuel on Turkish soil. Encrypted within it, I knew,

was a new language.


כל מטוסינו

.לְפִי מְקוֹרוֹת זָרִים, בַּלַּיְלָה בּוֹ הִכַּרְתִּי אֶת שִׁירְלִי – צַהַ”ל תָּקַף בְּסוּרְיָה

א17 טוֹן חֹמֶר נֶפֶץ הֻפְּלוּ מִמְּטוֹסֵי חֵיל הָאֲוִיר

וְחָדְרוּ אֶת הַכּוּר הָאָטוֹמִי, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁאֲנִי וְאִשְׁתִּי לֶעָתִיד

הִתְנַשַּׁקְנוּ לָרִאשׁוֹנָה

.בְּפַּאבּ הַלֶנִי’ס בִּפְלוֹרֶנְטִין

.אַחַר כָּךְ הָלַכְנוּ לְדִירָתִי, שֶׁאֶקְרָא בְּכַף יָדָהּ

מָצָאתִי 3 קַוִּים אֲלַכְסוֹנִים, חוֹצִים אֶת גִּבְעוֹת וֶנוּס וְאֶת כִּתְמֵי

הַשּׁוֹקוֹלָד הַנָּמֵס בֵּין הָאֶצְבָּעוֹת. אָחַזְתִּי כָּל אֶצְבַּע וְאֶצְבַּע

.וְאָמַרְתִּי שֶׁלֹּא תָּעֵז לְפַחֵד, אֲנִי אֶשְׁמֹר עָלֶיהָ

רַק בַּבֹּקֶר נוֹדַע שֶׁכָּל מְטוֹסֵינוּ שָׁבוּ בְּשָׁלוֹם

לְבַד מִמָּטוֹס אֶחָד, תּוֹעֶה וְאָבוּד, שֶׁהִשְׁלִיךְ מְכָל רֵיק

שֶׁל דֶּלֶק אֲוִירִי עַל אַדְמַת טוּרְקְיָה. יָדַעְתִּי שֶׁמֻּצְפֶּנֶת בּוֹ

.שָׂפָה חֲדָשָׁה


Yakir Ben-Moshe is an Israeli poet and director of literary programs at Bialik House in Tel Aviv. Every Morning at Least One Blond Guy Becomes Bald was published in 2003.  Ah, If Only We Had a Clarinet was published in 2013 and The Delta of Your Life was published in 2017, both with The Bialik Institute. He is the recipient of The Culture Ministry’s Poetry Prize.


Joanna Chen’s literary translations have been published in Poetry International, Mantis, Waxwing, Asymptote, Consequence and numerous other journals. Less Like a Dove, a collection of poems by Agi Mishol, was published by Shearsman Books in 2017. Her translation of Meir Shalev’s My Wild Garden is forthcoming in 2019 by Pantheon. She teaches literary translation at The Helicon School of Poetry in Tel Aviv.


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